One of the few placebos ever to be actually to be advertised as being a “Genuine 100% Placebo” – with reference made to the proven medical effect – the Spanish Fly placebo racket was the brainchild of con-man Jack McGreary.
Worrying about one’s sexual prowess is a Depression-proof market niche, something that allowed McGreary and his confederates to rake in a massive profit from selling sugar pills all over America in 1939. In fact, so successful was this racket – even at 1939 US $6.50 for a packet of pills – that the market proved to have room for two higher end placebos, Spurious Spanish Fly ($14 a packet) and Psuedo Spanish Fly ($25 a packet). Aphrodisiacs – even spurious ones – are always in high demand.
Like most good cons – and in a sense, this wasn’t even a con, so long as you were bright enough to look up placebo in the dictionary – it lasted until the con-men got bored with it.